Celtic's Cult Heroes

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Celtic's Cult Heroes

Post by Scottish » Fri Apr 11, 2008 11:58 am

David Potter is a well-known name in the world of Scottish football and his latest book ‘Celtic’s Cult Heroes’ (£16-99, ISBN 978-1-905449-08-8, Know The Score Books Ltd) is a welcome addition to the ever-growing library of the game’s past.

He has selected twenty players (and managers), encompassing all eras of Celtic’s history, for inclusion and while the usual suspects are present as you would expect – Quinn, McGrory, Tully, Stein, Johnstone, Larsson – there are a few surprising entries too – particularly if you’re not familiar with the detail of Celtic’s past. Tommy McInally, Peter Wilson and Bertie Thomson for example are names which may not resonate much beyond the Parkhead faithful but Potter builds a powerful case for their inclusion in every instance.

Structured chronologically, from Dan Doyle through to Shunsuke Nakamura, the book also serves as a compact history of the club. Potter doesn’t shy away from the downsides of these heroes of old. The drinking, gambling and womanising which beset some of these players and in some instances led them to an early grave are all chronicled meticulously.

Naturally any such book will provoke arguments over inclusion and exclusion (having written something similar for Kilmarnock, I was taken aback by the hostility expressed by some to my inclusion of Kris Boyd) and there are a few names missing which the non-Celtic fan might have expected to see included – Willie Maley, John Thomson, Billy McNeill, Tommy Gemmell, Tommy Burns and Paul McStay spring to mind. But it is impossible to please everyone and the author has to make difficult decisions concerning entries.

Some Celtic supporters might even be annoyed by one or two entries. Pat Crerand and Charlie Nicholas still haven’t been forgiven by some for having the temerity to leave Celtic at the peak of their powers and Potter deals with this hostility towards former heroes admirably.

It says much about the development of modern football – not just Celtic – that Nicholas is the last Scot included in the book. Of all those who have worn the hoops since, only Henrik Larsson and Shunsuke Nakamura merit inclusion.

As the author of three club histories myself I know how difficult it is to structure a book which will appeal to the faithful yet at the same time fall something short of hagiography to the non-believer. By and large Potter handles this well. But it is a book primarily aimed at Celtic fans and while it is undoubtedly a worthy addition to the library of any football supporter, the non-Celt should be prepared to enter a world where sendings-off are unjustified and defeats are unlucky.

That said, my only real gripe in this respect is the suggestion that Chris Sutton’s (not one of the twenty players included) notorious ‘lying-down’ barb directed at Dunfermline on the last day of the 2002-03 season was “not entirely without justification.”

It was WHOLLY without justification IMHO.

That aside this is a well-written, thoroughly researched, informative and entertaining look at some of the most famous players to have played for Celtic over the past 120 years and is well worth £16-99 of anyone’s money.

And while Rangers fans might be tempted to leave the bookshop with their copy hidden inside ‘Asian Babes’ this is a purchase well worth making.

The publishers say they can provide copies cheaper than Amazon.

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Post by the hibLOG » Fri Apr 11, 2008 1:24 pm

Surely the likes of Stein or Larsson or Crerand or Nicholas are hardly 'cult' heroes, maybe just 'heroes', no?

I always thought cult heroes were players who became darlings of the terraces without ever achieving unquestioned greatness, for some facet of character, maybe not even playing for the club for that long, maybe for their off-the-field activities, maybe even for ironic reasons. People like Matt Le Tissier, Chic Charnley, Stan Bowles, John Burridge, Robin Friday, Benny Brazil...

I'd want a book on 'cult' heroes to tell me about interesting players you maybe don't know everything about, rather than 'the usual suspects'.
Fraser

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Post by lbb » Fri Apr 11, 2008 2:33 pm

A good review though I can only concur with Fraser - it seems an odd title given the list of players selected. There is a Rangers equivalent which features players like Alan Morton, Barry Ferguson and Ally McCoist - not by any definition cult heroes. You can't help but wonder if the publisher has approached the author(s) in both cases and something has got lost in the translation. There must be very few stories about Jock Stein or Henrik Larsson that the average Celtic fan doesn't know about, I'd have thought.

According to the publishers the criteria is 'the ones who developed the most affinity with the Bhoys' incredible support; who were deified and came to stand for something more than mere footballers.' Though I did discover that Shunsuke Nakamura is neither Irish nor Catholic.

The reference to Sutton's comment is disappointing, though probably not surprising. I had an argument with a Celtic fan a couple of weeks ago who assured me that if Mikel Arteta had missed his last minute penalty then Celtic would have won the league. Myth has overtaken fact with regards to that day and, for a good number of Celtic fans, Sutton's comment found favour and continues to find favour.

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Post by fatbhoy » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:42 pm

lbb wrote:According to the publishers the criteria is 'the ones who developed the most affinity with the Bhoys' incredible support; who were deified and came to stand for something more than mere footballers.' Though I did discover that Shunsuke Nakamura is neither Irish nor Catholic.
That's a surprisingly bitter statement from a supporter of a team who only recently decided to shed their sectarian signing policy - and no doubt you didn't start supporting them the day Maurice Johnston signed.
Pride over Prejudice indeed :oops:
"In the hall of fame of the football game there's a name that stands alone . . ."

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Re: Celtic's Cult Heroes

Post by fatbhoy » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:57 pm

scottish wrote:That said, my only real gripe in this respect is the suggestion that Chris Sutton’s (not one of the twenty players included) notorious ‘lying-down’ barb directed at Dunfermline on the last day of the 2002-03 season was “not entirely without justification.”

It was WHOLLY without justification IMHO.
Of course it was. I don't recall any similar comment about Dunfermline when Sutton and Co. put four past them a few weeks earlier. Also overlooked is the fact that Dunfermline took the lead at Ibrox on the last day, which came as a pleasant surprise to me at Rugby Park and hardly suggests they were lying down. As Lbb refers, there was more than 1 goal in it in the end. If Celtic hadn't shipped two in the last game at Celtic Park whilst putting 6 past Dundee it could have been different - he was trying to deflect blame from where it really lay, always a sign of a very poor loser.
"In the hall of fame of the football game there's a name that stands alone . . ."

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Post by lbb » Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:34 am

fatbhoy wrote: That's a surprisingly bitter statement from a supporter of a team who only recently decided to shed their sectarian signing policy - and no doubt you didn't start supporting them the day Maurice Johnston signed.
Pride over Prejudice indeed :oops:
I'm only repeating the statement that's on the publishers website - Shunsuke Nakamura is neither Irish nor Catholic, lest there be any doubt, apparently. I thought he was a regular in Waxy Dargles too. :roll:

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